Finding grace in the balance

Every job has that “thing” right?  You know, that one thing that makes it harder, or more complex, or causes a deeper thought process to figure out balance and moderation, priorities and pressure.  We’ve all experienced those challenges I have absolutely no doubt.  For the ministry, we all deal with what to do with family gatherings when, for the rest of the world, the best time to have them are weekends and holidays – often our busiest and most joyful times which are also times of most intense work.  The reality of that challenge hits somewhere in the first couple of years and I think there’s a settling in period, and then it comes up more and less intensely at different times and different stages.

Not sure if this will be a surprise to most of you, but I’ve always been a little compulsive about my work.  O.k., maybe little is an understatement, but simply let me have that one.  And I may be nearly as hard-headed as my dad, or maybe a little moreso, so there hasn’t always been a lot of compromise involved with my presence or lack thereof at important family gatherings.  In the last five years that has changed a bit.  It’s amazing what time and age will do.  A few years ago I made it home for Mother’s Day for the first time in my career, and this past Sunday, I headed out for Father’s Day. And I “baked” a couple of cakes from CostCo, so even came bearing hermetically sealed gifts that didn’t get smushed or crunched!  We had quite a party, it may not surprise you that I’m NOT the only one in my family that is loud. Plus, my two oldest great-nephews, and yes that does make me a great Aunt, snort are playing baseball on the same summer league team and they had a home game on the most perfect weather night of the year! In the bottom of the 7th and final inning both nephews had hits in a come from behind walk-off with the oldest sliding across home plate for the winning run!!! I know, right???  How full was my bucket???  And we were ALL THERE!  Don’t tell anyone, but I might have had a few tears thinking about it all as I drove back across Kansas – there are simply some moments that you know are priceless.

Honestly?  I have no small amount of regret at what I know I’ve missed with my nuclear family through the years.  AND at the same time am so very grateful for a life of ministry that I would not change even if given the chance.  Can both be true??? How do we hold both regret and thankfulness, joy and some sorrow, worry and a deep sense of peace – in our hearts and souls and minds all at the same time?  You too? I’m guessing that every life filled with family and career and volunteering and vacations and getting kids to activities and camps and games and sometimes wondering if we’re making the right choices at the right times for the right reasons leaves us a little overwhelmed, and wondering, maybe even, where is God in all of this?

And yet . . . you know me, there’s always an and yet . . .how much grace is there that we love and are loved by others living in the midst of the same complexities with the same challenges having to make the same kinds of hard choices? All of us in our own unique journeys learning that a full life comes with the bittersweet, a few regrets, a whole bunch of joy-full moments, all helping to create who we are and the life God has given us.  Is there one right way to do all the right things?  I don’t think so.  I think in God’s grace with our sometimes strong and sometimes not so much strong faith we make the best decisions we can at the times we need to make them and then learn, sometimes the hard way, what we need to do differently and what we would choose again and again and again.  I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that God wants good things for us.  And I also believe God urges, nudges, pushes, pulls, invites, but does not coerce us toward that which is blessing.  Many times we walk into that blessing and other times we simply don’t.  In both instances, God’s love for us never leaves. And that is nothing less than grace!

In this summer season coming sorta kinda out of a pandemic, I pray you will have the time and presence with those you love the most.  That the balance of work and play and intensity and leisure will be healthy and positive.  That in the midst of the everydays and the somedays, you will experience the all the days of God’s presence.